By Loucas Charalambous
LAST SUNDAY I wrote that if President Nicos Anastasiades wanted the speedy settlement he claimed he did, he should put aside tactical manoeuvres and engage in a committed effort to reach an agreement in meetings with Mustafa Akinci.
The use of negotiators serves no purpose. Their appointment was made on Anastasiades’ insistence with the aim of perpetuating the procedure. And it was no accident he appointed Andreas Mavroyiannis as negotiator, a man who had openly opposed a settlement.
To make sure his negotiator would do everything he could to waste time, Anastasiades created an official state post for him on a salary – if I am not mistaken – paid to permanent secretaries of ministries. Essentially he gave Mavroyiannis a very strong incentive for filibustering, as he would lose his job and big salary if a deal was reached.
Even if a negotiator were needed, Mavroyiannis was the most unsuitable person for the job. He has always been openly opposed to a settlement, as his bizarre political behaviour made evident. In 2004 he was one of the most fanatical advocates of the ‘no-vote’ and until two years ago he declared he was proud of his stance.
In an interview he gave just three months before his appointment as negotiator, he boasted about the supposed courage he had shown in 2004 by publishing articles against the Annan plan. As if any daring were necessary for a civil servant to take a public position against the settlement with Tassos Papadopoulos as president. In reality he was acting as his master’s voice.
This raises a question: how is it possible for such a man to be in charge of the negotiations and arrive at a settlement plan that – thanks to him and his ‘no campaign’ soul-mates – can only be worse for our side than the one in 2004?
In an interview he gave to Simerini on May 23, 2008, Mavroyiannis, who at the time was Cyprus’ permanent representative at UN, said: “We are worried about the haste and insistence of some in setting 2008 as the final time limit, as we are not convinced that it derives exclusively from their concern for a speedy settlement but probably serves other objectives.”
Seven years later, on March 2, 2015, Mavroyiannis said the following in a lecture he gave in London: “In the discussion about time-frames, if one wants to be a pragmatist, he cannot ignore certain basic factors, the most serious of which is Turkey’s current political orientation… If this is the situation in Turkey we must make haste. Because if we wait for a few more years there will be no Turkish Cypriot community and its leadership will not represent the Turkish Cypriots. Objectively, a time-frame is being created. We are running out of time in Cyprus. We must do something as soon as possible.”
This smart diplomat, who in 2008 warned that all those in a hurry for a settlement had “other objectives”, has now discovered that we should indeed hurry up because in a few years “there will be no Turkish Cypriot community” and that “we are running out of time.” How did he stumble on this major discovery?
Not just since 2008 but also in 2004 and even 25 years ago, we have been warning about a result that Mavroyiannis has realised so belatedly – that soon there will be no Turkish Cypriots to negotiate with.
Another example of Mavroyiannis’ astuteness was shown in the interview given two months after the economy’s bankruptcy and three months before his appointment as negotiator in September 2013. He was asked whether he agreed with the view that a settlement would help the economy and his response was pretty emphatic. “No, on the contrary,” he said.
Mavroyiannis, who apart from being a consummate negotiator is also staking a claim as a respected economist, is the only person in Cyprus who believes a solution would not be beneficial to the economy. So what is he negotiating for? For something that would cause even bigger problems to our struggling economy?
I think all the above demonstrate the qualities that have always characterised our politicians and diplomats and go a long way in explaining the mess we find ourselves in today – their irresponsibility, superficiality, populism and incompetence are non-negotiable. And what is worse is that we expect these people to solve the Cyprus problem.